Perception has not become reality in
The stories he heard about the Lions, and their reputation for how they performed on the field, have been just that – perceptions and stories that have been buried by their surge to a 6-3 record that has them in first place in the NFC North.
Bush was well aware of how outsiders around the NFL viewed the Lions before he entered the free-agent market in March after five seasons with the Saints and the last two in Miami. And it was no surprise, considering they’d had only one winning record from 2001-12, with a 4-12 record last year.
As he sat in front of his locker Tuesday, Bush described the scouting report he’d heard on the Lions.
"Undisciplined and could score fast, but would beat themselves in the end, ultimately," Bush said.
Short, and not particularly sweet.
He wasn’t singling out a particular unit.
"I wasn’t talking specifically offense or defense," Bush said. "Just as a team."
Meeting with the Lions’ coaches and management and some players before signing as a free agent not only convinced Bush that Detroit’s offense was suited to his talent, but that there was a commitment to winning.
That has proven to be the case. The Lions have not squandered games. In the last two games, the offense beat Dallas with a long touchdown drive, and the defense held off the Bears’ attempt at a tying two-point conversion.
Veteran players have talked about a renewed unity in the locker room, and Bush has felt it.
"When I first got here, everybody was ready to win," he said. "The guys were tired of whatever happened last year – tired of getting knocked around a little bit. Guys were just ready to buy in and win right away.
"That’s been the mentality since I’ve been here. Everybody’s been on the same common goal to win, and kind of erase the past and history of the Detroit Lions, so to speak."
Bush has validated how the Lions targeted him as one of their key free-agent signings. He’s rushed for 623 yards with a 4.7-yard average per carry and has 34 receptions for 343 yards. He has scored four touchdowns – two each rushing and passing.
Bush was getting text messages from
He wanted to play in a good offense, on a team that could contend.
"I felt the appreciation right away, but at the same time had to handle the business side," Bush said. "It’s been a great ride every step of the way."
The ride isn’t over. There are seven weeks left in the regular season, and the Lions cannot back off.
"I don’t think 6-3 has changed anything," Bush said. "Honestly, I don’t think we’ve earned our respect yet from a lot of people. We may have raised some eyebrows, but I don’t think anybody’s sold on us yet, and rightfully so.
"Six and three doesn’t win you a division. It doesn’t get you a first-round bye in the playoffs. It doesn’t get you to the playoffs. We still have a lot of football left to play."